The holidays are easily our favorite time of year for craft brews. The range of styles and flavors is so broad (and the season regrettably brief), it’s a herculean effort just to include all our favorites at holiday gatherings with friends and family.
But, we do our best, and there are a few that we never fail to serve. We think you’ll enjoy them at your table, too.
Great Lakes Christmas Ale
Do not open ‘til Christmas? Whoever coined that phrase obviously hasn’t tasted Christmas Ale’s fresh honey, cinnamon, and ginger ﬂavors. This legendary winter warmer is a Cleveland favorite, and for good reason: it smells and tastes like Christmas, and has won 6 World Beer Championship medals since 1999.
Although we like to see folks enjoying Great Lakes Christmas Ale in their favorite mug or pint glass, it also makes an excellent addition to seasonal recipes. This recipe is a perennial favorite — unique and delicious, with just the right amount of savory sweetness to complement the Christmas Ale you’re serving alongside it.
Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates
- 12-18 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 (12oz) bottle Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale
- Strips of bacon, cut in half (12-18 total pieces)
- 4-6 oz Mild goat cheese
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 1 tsp Fresh cinnamon
- Soak pitted dates in Christmas Ale overnight in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- On the next day, blend goat cheese, honey, and cinnamon with a hand mixer.
- Remove dates from Christmas Ale liquid, and place a small amount of the goat cheese mixture in each. Wrap each date with a section of bacon, and secure with a toothpick.
- Arrange dates on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 450°F. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until bacon is brown and crispy, turning halfway through. Serve warm with a bottle of Great Lakes Christmas Ale.
Founders Rübæus Pure Raspberry Ale
Although Rübæus is available year-round, it’s especially welcome in a holiday setting. The ruby-red color accents holiday greenery, golds and silvers, and the powerfully aromatic raspberry bouquet plays nicely with other holiday scents like cranberry, sage, and roasted meat.
Rübæus is sweet and fruity, but overall quite light, with a tart, dry finish, making it a perfect partner to holiday fare, especially desserts. If you’re serving vanilla ice cream with your pumpkin pie this year, try making a Rübæus float.
Bell’s Christmas Ale
No craft brew Christmas would be complete without Bell’s Christmas Ale. A smooth alternative to traditional spiced winter warmers, this Scottish Ale is made with Michigan-grown barley from the Bell’s Farm in Shepherd, Michigan to impart dry, toasted notes along with subtle toffee flavors. A blend of hops from Michigan and the Pacific Northwest lend an earthy, herbal aroma to complement your holiday menu, not overpower it.
Bell’s Christmas Ale has layers of flavor and subtle aromatics that won’t overwhelm the wonderful selection of holiday foods and other alcoholic beverages you’re serving, but it’s the harmony of roasted turkey and cranberry sauce with the rich caramel body of Bell’s Christmas Ale you’ll notice immediately. You’ll taste everything being brought to the table without palate fatigue.
Frankenmuth Christmas Town Ale
Established in 1862, the historic Frankenmuth Brewery is proud to be known as Michigan’s Original Craft Brewery. For more than 150 years, the brewery has been dedicated to brewing and serving award-winning German-inspired beer, popular flagship brews, highly anticipated seasonal releases, and unique small batches.
Among the most eagerly awaited winter warmers in Michigan, Christmas Town Ale combines sweet toasted dark malts with American hops to create a medium-bodied spiced ale with a taste and aroma that is unmistakably Christmas. Drinkable and not overpowering, you’ll enjoy subtle notes of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove.